Ten Books on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
Dance yourself happy??
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the term for treatments that are not part of mainstream healthcare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that while people use alternative treatments in place of standard treatments, they also use complementary treatments alongside them.
Complementary medicine refers to non-traditional treatments used alongside conventional medicine to promote overall health and wellness.
Some benefits of using complementary medicine for mental health include reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, improved mood, and increased feelings of relaxation and calmness. However, it's important to keep in mind that not all complementary therapies have scientific support and may not be suitable for everyone. Before adding any new treatments to a mental health plan, it is always best to talk to a health care professional.
Challenges include not being able to get it or not being able to afford it, putting it into traditional psychiatric treatment plans, doing more research on how well it works and how safe it is, and taking culture into account when using CAM for mental health in different communities.
I hope that as Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, you have been able to discover some new books that have been of assistance to you or to someone you know who is struggling. If you've fallen behind, you can find the most current posts below.
The 10 nonfiction titles listed below may be helpful to you while you explore alternative therapies for mental health.
Dancing Is the Best Medicine: The Science of How Moving To a Beat Is Good for Body, Brain, and Soul by Julia F. Christensen and Dong-Seon Chang (2021) Greystone Books | Dancing is one of the best things we can do for our health. In this groundbreaking and fun-to-read book, two neuroscientists (who are also competitive dancers) draw on their cutting-edge research to reveal why humans are hardwired for dance and show how to achieve optimal health through dancing.
The Dance Cure: The Surprising Science to Being Smarter, Stronger, Happier by Peter Lovatt (2021) Harper One | The founder of the Dance Psychology Lab, Dr. Peter Lovatt, reveals the surprising cognitive and emotional benefits of dancing and prescriptive ways to dance yourself happy. Dancing isn't just good exercise. Surrendering yourself to the beat can have a far-reaching impact on all areas of your life. It can help you communicate better, think more creatively, and be a powerful catalyst for change. Losing yourself in the moment to a song or piece of music can also alleviate anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation, Dr. Peter Lovatt has found.
Saved by a Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting by Mary Gauthier (2021) St. Martin’s Essentials | In Saved by a Song, Mary Gauthier pulls the curtain back on the artistry of songwriting. Part memoir, part philosophy of art, and part nuts and bolts of songwriting, her book celebrates the redemptive power of song to inspire and bring seemingly different kinds of people together.
Your Guide to Forest Bathing (Expanded Edition): Experience the Healing Power of Nature by M Amos Clifford (2021) Red Wheel | Simply being present in the natural world, with all of our senses fully alive, can have a remarkably healing effect. It can also awaken in us our latent but profound connection with all living things. This is "forest bathing," a practice that borrows from the Shinrin-yoku Japanese custom. It is a gentle, meditative approach to being with nature and an antidote to our nature-starved lives that can heal our relationship with the more-than-human world.
Animal Joy: A Book of Laughter and Resuscitation by Nuar Alsadir (2022) Graywolf Press | An invigorating, continuously surprising book about the serious nature of laughter. Laughter shakes us out of our deadness. An outburst of spontaneous laughter is an eruption from the unconscious that, like political resistance, poetry, or self-revelation, expresses a provocative, impish drive to burst free from external constraints.
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Herbal Medicine for Mental Health: Natural Treatments for Anxiety, Depression, ADHD, and More by Lillian Somner (2022) Citadel Press | Millions of Americans suffer from depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental health issues, and many get psychiatric help. For many of those patients, medication is a necessary part of treatment. But pharmaceuticals are not a cure-all. Sometimes they are ineffective, leaving patients feeling hopeless, as though nothing can be done. Some medications also have terrible side effects, leading patients to discontinue them. More and more patients are turning to natural products, supplements, essential oils, and herbs to solve their problems.
The Better Brain: Overcome Anxiety, Combat Depression, and Reduce ADHD and Stress with Nutrition by Bonnie J. Kaplan and Julia J. Rucklidge (2022) Harvest Publications | Leading scientists Bonnie Kaplan, PhD, and Julia Rucklidge, PhD, have dedicated their lives to studying the role of nutrition in mental health. Together, they have published over 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers, many of which reveal the healing power of nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals, and the surprising role they play in brain health.
Wired for Music: A Search for Health and Joy Through the Science of Sound by Adriana Barton (2022) Greystone Books | In this captivating blend of science and memoir, a health journalist and former cellist explores music as a source of health, resilience, connection, and joy. Music isn't just background noise or a series of torturous exercises we remember from piano lessons. In the right doses, it can double as a mild antidepressant, painkiller, sleeping pill, memory aid, enhance athletic performance, and support healthy aging.
We Heal Together: Rituals and Practices for Building Community and Connection by Michelle Cassandra Johnson (4/11/23) Shambhala | In times of isolation, heartbreak, and brokenness, reaching out to each other, being in conversation, and finding ways to connect with compassion and openness can help us heal, and thrive. This powerful, positive guide coaxes us to go beyond our individual and collective grief and courageously re-enter and reclaim our sense of community, which then further strengthens our spiritual practice.
Work It Out: A Mood-Boosting Exercise Guide for People Who Just Want to Lie Down by Sarah Kurchak (4/18/23) Quirk Books | Exercise is the most reliable way to improve mental health. But if you're depressed, anxious, burned out, or struggling, it may feel impossible to get started, get serious, or even get up. Work It Out, a book by a neurodiverse exercise expert, dispels fitness myths and offers straightforward, practical guidance.
10 alternative therapies for anxiety, depression, and PTSD | Fox26
Alternative Treatments for Anxiety | PyschCentral
Complementary vs. Alternative Medicine: What's the Difference? | WebMD
What Are Alternative Therapies? | Verywell Mind
Have you had success using any of these alternative therapies?
Did you find any good books to add to your TBR? This is just a small sampling of the nonfiction titles I’ve curated on this topic. Make sure to check out the complete list HERE.
Let's Read Nonfiction is a weekly newsletter that showcases the newest nonfiction titles, with a new topic or theme each week. Some past topics have been:
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